Saturday, March 21, 2009

Edna Day—March 22

There are federal holidays and state holidays. There are religious holidays.

And then there are also personal holidays, and this is one. Grandma S—Edna—was born March 22, 1905, the time of the vernal equinox, and you never met a human who personified springtime more.

Because we live in the house in which she lived her entire adult life, I think about her a lot. I can’t help it. She wasn’t a traditional grandmother, because of her character. My brother once described her as “a frustrated actress.” She was the kind of person who brought the party with her everywhere she went. Pretty much.

Anyway . . . as kids, my dad and his brothers started a tradition of presenting their mother with a flat of pansies every year on her birthday, and these always ended up in the front planters, on either side of the front entryway. They stuck to the tradition, pretty much. And I helped some years, especially as Grandma got older.

Pansies are so colorful. They look like little happy faces, smiling at you when you come home after one of those client meetings. They welcome our visitors. Good deal.

And around here, the vernal equinox is just about the best time of year to plant pansies; they’re hardy enough to tolerate the occasional spring snow.

So even though Grandma isn’t with us anymore, we don’t see any good reason to break the pattern. It’s turned into a little ceremony, where we remember Grandma’s love of flowers and gardening. We poke those colorful little pansies into the soft ground and think of how glad we are to have known her. She was cheerful and colorful . . . and so are pansies.

But there is something that goes beyond the comfort of tradition, and the nostalgia of remembering Grandma, when we observe this little celebration.

It feels distinctly satisfying, like a form of consummation. By performing this small ritual of planting pansies in the front planters, we officially put winter to bed. Simultaneously, we formally greet spring, and then the spring greets us back each time we walk through the doors.

It has to do with a lot more than Grandma, but we still call it Edna Day around here.


Anonymous said...

Terrific--love to be reminded of Edna, who I really only knew for a few years. Makes me even more determined to keep our "volunteer" pansies. Last year we planted some in a planter right outside our front door, and they bloomed for a long time. Late in the season, we saw that they had spread to the mulched area in front of the planter--and those pansies not only bloomed all winter, but continued to spread! Now, they have even spread back into the planter! I guess now I'll think of them as my "Edna" flowers.------Karla

Julie said...

Yes, I know what you mean about the volunteers--they've reseeded themselves, right? I love it when that happens. The return visitors are rarely as huge as their parents, but they are much hardier. . . . I also love the gradient that forms between pansies, violas, and violets. Some year I want to plant them in a line so they look like the Von Trapp children. (As you know, living here, we think of Grandma a lot. Can't help it. Fortunately, that's a good thing.)